To understand how best to secure our homes with home security measures, lets first take a look at crime statistics in the UK.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), burglary is an “Unauthorised entry into a victim’s dwelling or non-connected building (for example, a shed or non-connected garage).”
Between Sept 2017 and September 2018, the ONS reported that there were approximately 427,435 burglaries, which equates to approximately;
- 35,620 Burglaries every single month
- 1,171 burglaries EVERY DAY
- 49 Hourly Burglaries
- 1 Burglary every 75 seconds
Every 75 seconds, someone’s house, garage or Shed is broken into!
Furthermore, the ONS reports that 70% of burglars gain access through a doorway. The remaining 30% gain access through windows.
70% of all burglaries happen during the week. 60% of burglaries happen between 6am and 6pm while people are at work.
What is the most disturbing of those statistics is that of all burglaries reported by the ONS approximately 50% of victims knew the burglar, and over 50% of burglaries happen while the victim is in the property!
Home Security Breaches
Security is all about mitigation. That is, to reduce the threat of a security breach happening, whether that be an attack, or a burglary. When conducting a security audit, companies like Indrisec will carry out a threat assessment.
This threat assessment will then highlight areas where more attention should be focused. How that works is companies will look at threats, vulnerabilities and risks. In the instance of this article, the Threat is home invasion, or burglary. The Vulnerability is the thing that someone trying to carry out the threat (burglary) could look to take advantage of. In other words, how could a thief carry out a home invasion. The Risk is an assessment of what damage is done, if that assailant is successful in their attempt. In this example, the risk could be loss of goods, causing financial strain. Emotional stress at the thought of someone breaking into your house is a common symptom of becoming a victim of burglary. If the burglary turns violent, remembering that more than half of all burglaries happen while someone is home, physical harm, or worse, can happen.
Now for the good news. There are ways you can make yourself more secure and less of a target through some smart home security choices. This is also known as target hardening, and that’s the goal here, because a harder target is a safer target…
Perimeter Security: The First Step in Home Security
When looking at your home security options, the first place to look is to the perimeter. The perimeter is the boundary of your property, and it is often overlooked when thinking of home security. Unfortunately it is also the first potential obstacle that any would be intruder may face. A broken perimeter, is an easy perimeter, making for an easy target. And we don’t want to present an easy target.
Ensure any fence panels you may have are secured and are in good order. Rotten fence panels, or broken chain link fences are easy for would-be burglars to navigate through. These do little to slow any attacker down. In fact, a weak, uncared for perimeter could indicate visually that the person here, does not care much for boundaries. If your boundary isn’t in a good serviceable state, that can be attractive to burglars as an easy entry point.
Fence posts must be secured in place, and ist should not wobble of move. Fence panels should be intact with no large holes. Especially if there are dark or rural areas on the other side of your fence. With chain link fence, you should ensure that the link is in-tact and not broken or rusted through.
The only way someone should be able to penetrate your perimeter is to either climb it or go through a gate.
Gates are an Inherent Weak Point in your Home Security Perimeter
If you have gates along the side of your property, again these should be in good working order and lockable. Lockable side gates are a very common oversight. This gets worse if the property has a garden that is not overlooked by neighbours. If a burglar can simply walk through a gate, instead of having to climb it, then the neighbours are less likely to notice. You need to make entry as difficult as possible.
Case Study: A client with a large property and grounds whom Indrisec were advising for, declined to fix multiple holes in their perimeter fence. The clients were not particularly concerned with the holes, which they believed were caused by animals, as they were having CCTV installed around the property. Some months later, a burglar had gained access to the grounds through the hole in the perimeter and made his way to the patio doors where he tried to force entry. This happened through the night while the home owner was home, who only found out the following morning, after watching back the CCTV footage. Fortunately, the intruder did not gain entry, however, a decent perimeter would have made life more difficult.Indrisec Ltd
The grounds of your property should allow a good line of sight from inside the property to the boundaries, or near to the boundaries. The idea here being that if an intruder crosses your boundary, you are giving yourself maximum distance to spot them. This allows you time to lock any open doorways or windows. If you are fortunate enough to have a large estate, then being able to see far enough to give you this time, is a great help.
- Cleared line of sight is the best option. If you are a fan of plants and a full garden, then lots of light, is your best option.
- Lights: lots of light. You should look to place enough light in your garden that you can see enough area to allow a safe exit. Ground spiked solar lights can be purchased easily from places like amazon and can be quite reasonably priced. They can also make an attractive addition to your garden. More importantly though, positioned correctly they remove all blind spots from your garden, removing easy to hide areas and improving your home security.
- Put ladders away to stop an opportunist thief from using it.
- As with ladders, don’t leave any tools lying around in your garden that could be used to gain access.
- With more light covering all areas of your property grounds, you make your property less attractive for would be thieves. You make the target harder to attack.
Doorways are usually the strongest access points into your property. Unfortunately as the statistics earlier showed, 70% of all burglaries happen due to the burglar gaining access through a doorway. This is because people commonly forget to lock their doors when they go to sleep, or when they go out. And in the worst cases, people have simply left doors open allowing free and easy movement inside your home.
Check your doors are in good, serviceable condition. In the case of wooden doors, there should be no rotten spots. If you do find some, you should either find a replacement door or repair accordingly.
Modern UPVC doors generally offer great home security benefits with multiple deadbolt and locking systems.
If you don’t have a UPVC door, a simple manual deadbolt, screwed to the door and frame can increase your security greatly. Likewise an internal fixed deadbolt can offer great security.
Use all your locks. We have seen time and time again, many properties with deadbolts fitted, and yet rarely used. Normally because people just forget about them and don’t take the time to secure their property. Burglars want an easy life! If you have deadbolts. Use them. They are a great way to secure your doorways.
According to the ONS statistics, only 30% of burglaries are carried out through window access. Some of those are undoubtedly due to windows being left open, particularly in the summer months.
- As with doors, lock your windows when you leave the house or go to sleep. It is a common mistake, but one that can cost you dearly.
- Similarly, to doors, your windows and openings should be in good serviceable condition. Burglaries have happened where whole window frames have just been pulled out because they were not mounted properly.
- Glass should be mounted securely and not loose.
- If you have UVPC windows that are old, check them over. Older style UPVC windows were installed with removable trim on the outside of the frame. This allowed window fitters to change the glass from outside your home. Unfortunately this also meant that thieves could also remove the glass from outside and could easily gain access.
If it’s Not in Use: Lock it!
One tip Indrisec passes onto clients, is that if it is not in use: lock it. That refers to doorways, windows and cars. It takes seconds to lock a doorway and then unlock it when using it. Sadly all the time it is sitting there not being used, it is a potential access point for any burglar. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should always stay locked in your house for fear of being burgled. It’s just a suggestion to lock a door, that isn’t currently being used. If you get into the habit of locking what is not in use, then you are less likely to forget later.
Case Study: Indrisec were contacted by a couple whom had recently moved into a new house with existing CCTV installed. The couple themselves didn’t know how to work the CCTV. They wanted to check some footage due to a laptop going missing from the boot of their car. There had been no sign of a break in. Upon checking the footage it transpired that while the couple were unloading some shopping from their car during the day, they had forgotten to lock the vehicle afterwards. That night, by pure chance, a lone individual could be seen checking door handles on cars in the street. As they got to our clients vehicle, they tried the door and it opened. Within 2 minutes they’d checked the car over and stolen the laptop.Indrisec Ltd
Keys out of Sight
Many burglaries and car thefts have happened due to home owners leaving their keys near their front door. It is a common theme in the home. You come home from a hard day at work. As you let yourself into your home, you pop your keys onto the table in the. Unfortunately, thieves know this and use it to their advantage. With the right tools, a burglar can use your letterbox to steal your house or vehicle keys, completely destroying your home security efforts.
- Burglars, with the right tools, can gain entry quickly. Sometimes something as simple as a straightened wire coat hanger. They can use this to hook your house or vehicle keys through the letterbox.
- Ensure the curtains are closed when you go to bed. If they can’t see your valuable, they can’t steal them.
- Do not leave any keys or valuable objects within reaching distance of the door. Use key hooks, out of sight, of all windows, or better still, keep in them in a cupboard.
- Use letterbox draft brushes, or cage or back box. This can prevent would be intruders from using tools to retrieve items through your letterbox.
- A door without a letterbox opening is the best option here. Having a separated postal box with no direct access into your house is your best home security option.
Does Social Media matter for Home Security?
There is growing evidence that suggests burglars are using social media to target properties. GEO-Tagged photos taken on smart phones, where the location data from your device attaches itself to the photo, are the biggest culprit of this home security breach. If you have a public social media account, then that picture you take while on holiday, could just be giving a would-be burglar an open invitation to your empty home.
- Ensure you are not GEO-Tagging your home when taking pictures.
- Be mindful not to take a picture of your home with the door number and street name in it.
- Try not to post too much personal information about yourself on social media and don’t announce security risks, such as broken windows or failed house alarms.
- Your social media accounts all come with safety settings, ensure you are aware of the different settings you can utilise, and set them to your own standards.
- While it is fun to share your life with your friends and family, just be aware that others are also surfing the internet, looking for victims.
PIR Sensor Lighting
PIR (Passive InfraRed) Sensors are sensors that detect movement and can either activate an alarm, a camera, or a lighting system. These are a great tool in securing your premises and can easily alert to movement. These types of lighting, especially since the advent of solar powered security lighting are probably one of the most easiest to install home security systems you can get.
- The most basic form of these is to install a PIR floodlight around your property.
- You can install PIR sensors along the outside of your house. They will illuminate an area with bright light once movement is detected, often deterring any further attempt at intrusion.
- PIR floodlights often work to scare off intruders, but they also draw the eye of anyone who is in view of the lighting units.
Home Security Alarm System
Home Intruder alarms are a great deterrent for would-be burglars and can detect an attempted burglary in several ways. Obviously, this comes at a cost, and budgets vary, but if a home intruder alarm system is affordable for you, it is something you should be considering.
Starting with PIR sensors, much like the ones described earlier, these can be fitted inside your home and armed when you leave or go to bed. The PIR sensor will detect any movement inside your house and trigger the alarm. These can also be set to allow for the movement of pets, to reduce any false alarms. The downside to these is that it requires someone to physically be inside your house before it will activate the alarm, however they are a great failsafe in case your other security measures fail.
Shock and Panic Alarms
Additionally you can also fit contact and shock sensors to your doors and windows. Contact sensors bridge the gap between your doorway and frame, or window and frame, with one contact attached to the window or door and one attached to the frame. Then, when someone opens the door or window, the contacts separate and activate the alarm.
Shock sensors can be fitted to glass and detect an attempt, or a successful window break. This works by detecting the shock from impacts made against the surface the sensor is mounted to. This in turn then causes an alarm activation.
Panic alarms can be added to your system also. These are normally activated by pressing two buttons simultaneously. They can be carried in your pocket, or placed in key locations around the house. You activate the panic alarm manually, in the event of an someone causing you to feel for your safety. Once activated it will sound the alarm.
With an alarm box fitted to the outside of your house, your intruder alarm acts as a visual deterrent before a burglar even attempts entry. This may reduce the cost of your home insurance premium.
Home Security CCTV System
Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) is a form of video surveillance using cameras. It can be carefully located around your property to provide a live video feed into a recording device. It has two main benefits in the mitigation of crime. Firstly, they are a great visual deterrent, and thus a great addition to your home security system. Burglars will often try to avoid being recorded carrying out their crime. By having a visual deterrent attached to your property, you make your house less appealing. Secondly, they are great for evidence gathering and can provide vital evidence as a result of a break in attempt.
- CCTV can be remotely monitored by a third party, such as Indrisec, where security operatives will monitor your cameras for intruders and can alert the police to an intruder attempt.
- Maintenance of CCTV is minimal once the system is installed.
- Most modern systems allow you to monitor your property from within the safety of your home with an app, or directly through your recording device on your CCTV system.
- You can also use an app with most CCTV systems to check in on your property when you’re away on holiday or at work, so long as you have an internet connection.
- Combined with a home alarm system, and all the other points mentioned here, you can create a very secure home for yourself that does not impede on your daily life, yet protects that which you love the most.
Contact some Home Security Professionals
For further information you can contact one of the companies on our database. Alternatively you can get in touch with the author of this article at Indrisec Ltd, who would be able to advise you accordingly regarding your home security options.